Getting Started/Build

< Getting Started
Revision as of 22:03, 22 February 2012 by Ralfjung (talk | contribs) (Add links to "how to run" documentation (it took me quite a while to find these!))
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These pages are currently being completely re-written to reflect the new KDE infrastructure and may not be in a consistent state. Information and commands on some page may no longer be valid and should be used with care.

Getting Started/Build


This page provides an overview of the KDE build process. Once you complete the steps described here you will have a complete KDE development system customized to your needs.

Build Steps

This section will briefly explain the concepts and steps involved in building software so you are not being asked to blindly follow some recipes you do not understand.

It is assumed you are at least familiar with the basics of using the command line.

Once you have read the summary you can see a worked example here.


The Source step is obtaining a local copy of the source code that you want to build. For a detailed explanation of where to obtain the source code and how KDE stores and organizes our source code please read the KDE Sources section.

The two main options here are to either download a snapshot tarball of the code, or to directly access the source code repository. For developing on the unstable branch of the KDE SC it is recommended you directly access the required repositories.


The Configure step is setting up how the source code is to be built and installed.


The Build step is compiling the source code and linking it to other libraries to create the new executables and libraries.


The Install step is copy the new executables and libraries somewhere that they can be found and run from.


The Update step is updating an existing build to use the latest version of the source code and then re-building and re-installing it.

Scripted Builds

The easiest way to build the KDE SC from scratch is to use one of the build scripts that are available. This approach is highly recommended for those new to building KDE SC as it takes care of the Source, Configure, Build, Install and Update steps for you. The builds remain compatible with the manual methods of building KDE SC so you can change later if you want.

Even KDE Core Developers use build scripts like these as opposed to doing everything manually, as there's just no point otherwise.

If you run into any issues, be sure to ask either on the kde-devel mailing list, or the #kde-devel IRC channel (which many developers reside in and are willing to ask any questions or address any problems encountered).



Build-tool is a ruby program which is meant not for just building KDE, but also can easily be expanded to compile any other applications. It also has some neat features like progress bars and eta for compile time. It can also automatically generate a ~/.xsessionrc which can be used by KDM when you select to boot into a "Custom" session type. That will enable you to easily get into a KDE session which was built from source, without even having to modify any of your scripts like ~/.bashrc, ~/.zshrc, etc.

Install rubygems through your package manager. Run 'sudo gem install build-tool'. Now that build-tool is installed, we need to install the KDE recipes to have it build KDE from source. Run 'build-tool recipe add git:// kde' to add the KDE recipe to the program. Then 'build-tool recipes install kde'. From there, you can run 'kde-build help' to see the commands available for the KDE recipe, as well as compile and update the git repositories. For more detailed information, visit:

Platform Specific Information

The build process described in these pages is kept as simple and generic as possible, but it is generally assumed you are building KDE4 on Linux. Extra information about building KDE Software on specific distributions or platforms, or under certain conditions can be found at the following links:

Stable versus Unstable

A stable build is a released and supported version of KDE Software, such as KDE SC 4.6. This software is guaranteed to remain unchanged other than bug-fixes. You will want a Stable build if you want to use the KDE Software for normal use or to develop bug fixes.

An unstable build is the latest development version of KDE Software and is not guaranteed to build or run properly at any given time. You will want an Unstable build if you want to develop new features for KDE Software.

In Git, the Unstable branch is called Master while in Subversion it is called Trunk.

Build and Install

You need to complete each of the following steps to build and/or install a working KDE development system. Manually building KDE Software requires that you first set up the build environment and install the required development tools and libraries.

Troubleshooting The Build

Compile and Linking errors are frequent sources of discouragement. Make careful note of the first occurrence of an error in your build process. It could be as simple as a bad environment variable, an unexpected version of a library or missing prerequisite. Please read the instructions carefully.

Please review your logs and do searches for fixes. If you cannot find a solution, try the Troubleshooting page. If you still cannot resolve the problem then please ask for help on IRC or a Mailing List.

Starting KDE

Having built and installed KDE, you will probably want to start it. Launching a full session requires some preparations, depending on whether you want to run the self-compiled KDE within another desktop environment or as a full-blow session:

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